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Showing posts sorted by date for query Zoe Birkett. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Tuesday 7 March 2023

The Great British Bake Off Musical, Noel Coward Theatre | Review

The Great British Bake Off Musical
Noel Coward Theatre

A British institution, Bake Off may not seem like the most likely source for a musical but thankfully, it's musical adaptation works incredibly well and is an easily digestible, heart-warming show and a love letter to the series so many love.

Surprisingly sincere, the musical with book and lyrics by Jake Brunger and music and lyrics by Pippa Cleary is legitimately earnest in its portrayal of the characters and their stories but also includes excellent humour and always manages to stay on the right side of being a parody or caricature of itself. Moments that could be overplayed are often reigned in and you're always laughing with the show rather than at it. That's not to say there aren't some cringe moments and the odd line that doesn't quite hit correctly but none of them take away from the pure joy and sweetness of this musical and it really is a delight of a show.

Pacing wise, it's pretty perfect. It never feels like it drags and really you could do with a second helping of the brilliance on stage because it's just so lovely. It's quite surprisingly just how well everything works. From colour coded bowl choreography (Georgina Lamb) to the incredibly effective set by Alice Power there's not much to fault. Of course you could nitpick, but for the sheer sentimentality and wholesomeness, this musical is a showstopper.

The cast are incredibly strong and there's so much connection between them that shines on stage. As the presenters Zoe Birkett (Kim) and Scott Paige (Jim) are wondrously witty and have excellent chemistry, as if they've been genuine presenters for years. Taking on the job of the judges, Haydn Gwynne and John Owen-Jones are dynamic and somehow retain their individuality whilst bringing the iconic double act to life (in the show Prue Leith becomes Pam Lee and Phil Hollywood becomes Phil Hollinghurst). All of the contestants have stand out moments and are so solid in their portrayals. Charlotte Wakefield especially has some touching scenes and provides some of the top vocals of the show. Grace Mouat's character is also incredibly engaging and is a great contrast to the rest of the bakers. Michael Cahill, Claire Moore, Damian Humbley, Aharon Rayner, Jay Saighal, Aanya Shah and Cat Sandison all bring such humanity to their roles and are so wonderful to watch.

Every aspect of Bake Off makes the cut to the musical, from the challenges to the general structure and joke format. Like the tv show, there are innuendos galore and more baking puns than you could fit in the oven, but above that, it really encapsulates the warmth and community feeling that The Great British Bake Off provides. The contestants each get a bit of development and there's even a romance and some social commentary; all elements feel well thought out and it's really just a well structured, well oiled (greased?) musical. You couldn't really ask for a more genuinely touching show. It truly has all the ingredients to be a hit and is so worth seeing!

Reviewed on Friday 3rd March 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
photo credit: Manuel Harlan

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Rock of Ages (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

Rock of Ages (UK Tour)
Bristol Hippodrome
Reviewed on Tuesday 16th April 2019 by Isobelle Desbrow

Rock of Ages is a jukebox music which lacks any storyline but makes up for it through the use of humour and performance. Featuring such songs such as ‘We Built this City’, ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, the music is really stand out. Without these well know songs, and the musicianship of the actors the show wouldn’t have been worth watching.

Jodie Steele leads the cast wonderfully as Sherrie, her voice perfectly in sync with the rock genre. Steele's command of the stage is fantastic, with highlights being when she ran over Lonny’s foot with a toy tractor and her vocals in song like ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and ‘High Enough’ along side Drew played by Luke Walsh. Both performers provide outstanding vocals which you can't fail to be impressed by. However, they are unfortunately plagued by a one dimensional love story. 

Lucas Rush plays the charismatic Lonny, who also also narrates the show. His shenanigans with the audience often breaking the forth wall, really keep the audience involved. His enthusiasm and characterisation, are well needed in this dry at times show. Overall his acting and singing utterly brings the house down in tears of laughter and he also keeps the pace of the show going. 

Regina played by Rhiannon Chesterman is a hilarious and spectacular singer, who often left me jaw dropped while singing such numbers like ‘We're Not Gonna Take It’ and ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’. Dennis is played by the rocking Kevin Kennedy who’s rockstar voice matches the music well. Zoe Birkett plays the sultry Justice who owns the Venus Gentlemen’s club, and is a mother like character for Sherrie during the second half. Her soulful singing is a well cast addition to the show.

While this musical lacks a notable storyline, the interaction with the audience and jokes make it worthwhile and the performances all round are fantastic.

Rock of Ages runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until 20th April before continuing its tour.

photo credit: Richard Davenport

Friday 1 March 2019

Rock of Ages (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Rock of Ages (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 28th February 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

Lets start by saying that this is not a musical masterpiece by any means, but it is a super self-aware, high intensity, fun and crazily well performed show, that'll definitely have your toes tapping to some of the most well-loved rock classics.

The story, which is highly basic, follows small town girl, Sherrie and city boy Drew, who meet on the sunset strip whilst trying to achieve their Hollywood dreams. When German developers sweep into town, they threaten to ruin the rock n roll fairytales of everyone and the gang have to fight (and sing) for the the strip.

Rock of Ages absolutely doesn't take itself seriously, and instead revels in the cliches and nostalgia of the 80s with power ballads, rockers, shoulder pads and skimpy costumes. The minimal storyline is made up for with epic performances and a whole lot of fun. You can expect cheesy backdrops and props, tongue in cheek choreography, a rocking score and sexy rock chicks peppering the stage.

The flimsy script is brought to life by animated and intense performances from the cast. As  Sherrie, Jodie Steele belts out power ballads with vocal skill and ease, whilst her love interest Drew, is played incredibly well by Luke Walsh who has an outstanding voice. Zoe Birkett delivers completely stellar vocals in her small role as Justice and Kevin Kennedy brings vibrance and humour to Dennis who could easily command the stage as a bigger role. Kevin Clifton brings a surprisingly well rounded performance as the embodiment of sex and drugs and rock n roll, Stacee Jaxx. 

Also keeping up the humour and energy is Rhiannon Chesterman  as Regina who's voice is criminally underused but she does a great job with the script she's given. As German duo, Vas Constanti and Andrew Carthy are caricature's to the extreme but completely know how to work to the audience. 

The ensemble of skimpily clad men and women add moments of interest away from the main action and make the simplistic stage feel full and vibrant. It's Lucas Rush as Lonny who really steals the show with his charismatic performance and natural audience banter. He breaks the fourth wall with ease and seems to constantly be thinking of ways to entertain, and these pay off!

Nick Winston's direction and choreography is pretty strong throughout, although at time it feels like too much is happening at once, and what little story there is, becomes even more shadowed by other movement or action spread across the stage. At the same time, that does kind of sum up the show which is essentially a wacky showcase of some hit songs that have you not sure where to look or what to think.

Rock of Ages is thick with cliches, crudeness and semi-nudity but it's certainly fun. If you want a moving, dramatic narrative and a PG show, this is absolutely not for you. But, if you want great performances and a pretty electric atmosphere and some raucous, rocking fun, then pop along and have a fun night!

Rock of Ages runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until March 2nd before continuing it's UK Tour.

photo credit: Richard Davenport

Monday 14 May 2018

West End Live Lounge: Number 1, The Other Palace | Review

West End Live Lounge: One
The Other Palace
Reviewed on Sunday 13th May 2018 by Olivia Mitchell

The email telling me about an upcoming West End Live Lounge concert is one I look forward to with excitement and anticipation as the night always proves to be a joyous, talent-filled one. Last night's concert was exactly that, a celebration of Number 1 music, performed by a stellar line up, in aid of Centrepoint, a charity which supports homeless young people.

Opening the show with a gloriously haunting version of Sia's Titanium, were the ever stunning Kelly Agbowu and Natalie Green. Both performers have beautifully smooth vocals and they complement one another perfectly. 

From here on, act one of the concert raced by with vocal brilliance after vocal brilliance. Lisa Marie Holmes and Zoe Birkett gave heartfelt performances whilst, Jodie Jacobs gave an energetic performance of Jerry Lee Lewis' rock classic Great Balls of Fire. Rock numbers proved to be an audience favourite with Andrew Polec earning rapturous applause and cheers after his performance of Living on a Prayer.

Adam Bailey's haunting interpretation of Run was a sure stand out and Moya Angela closed act one with a spine-tingling, note perfect performance of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You.

Hosting the night were the hilarious Vikki Stone and The Other Palace producer, Paul Taylor-Mills. The pair bounced off each other naturally with their wit and banter providing fantastic transitions between songs.

Vikki took a break from hosting to open act two with her comical, stripped back performance of Cotton Eyed Joe. The great thing about West End Live Lounge is that although it's for a serious cause and a celebration of immense talent, at it's heart it's about love and humour. The whole night is set out to be a joyous night of fun and that's exactly what it is. You can feel the love in the room and it's truly heartwarming to be a part of.

Act two was a maelstrom of talent with 1/3 of Divalution: Sejal Keshwala involving the audience in her spirited version of Aretha Franklin's Think. Joel Harper Jackson and Andrew Bateup both brought chills with their performances of Lay Me Down and Georgia on my Mind. Their voices are smooth as butter and they are mesmerising performers to watch.

Natalie and Kelly returned with the wonderful Impossible and Liisi LaFontaine, on her fleeting visit to London, treated us to a seamless performance of Grenade. The song selection of this concert was top notch, with song after song fulfilling my emotive ballad craving. Christina Modestou's performance of If I Were a Boy was vocally flawless as was Liam Tamne's rendition of Diamonds.

Musical director extraordinaire Sam Coates and his incredible band did an outstanding job of accompanying the performers and creating their own musical magic. American singer Stacey Francis brought gospel to The Other Palace, whilst Divalution (formerly Sapphire Soul) brought their usual sass and killer belt with an epic 23 song mash up.

Bat Out of Hell stars Andrew Polec and Christina Bennington concluded the night with an acrobatic, dynamic performance of Evanescence's hit, Bring Me To Life. The pair have enough sparks to power all the lights in The Other Palace and it's clear why audience's are loving them over at the Dominion theatre.

Although the performers were amazing, the real star of West End Live Lounge is Shaun McCourt who set up the concerts. Shaun puts so much work into them and it's clear that his passion and drive are infectious throughout the entire West End Live Lounge family. There's so much joy evident and each concert provides a perfect, musical night out. Don't miss the next one... you'll regret it!

photo credit: Nick Brittain